Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Dish: New Orleans Food

So this technically is not a specific dish or food, but it's my blog so I am breaking my own rules. After a recent excursion down to New Orleans for a weekend of fun, I had the rare opportunity to try a number of different famous Cajun dishes and restaurants. Since this is the only part of the trip I can really talk about (and remember), I will try to go through as much of it as possible. Our first stop was an old place called Mother's. The restaurant is a famous old New Orleans institution, where there are no pretensions or fancy food, just good home cooking. It's the type of place, like Katz's, that when you walk in you feel like you are going to get some old world home cooking like you grew up with. While there I got to try two famous dishes that just bleed New Orleans - Debris and a Catfish Po Boy. For those of you that aren't familiar, debris is the pieces of Roast Beef that falls off into the drippings while roasting. It is incredibly tender, juicy and tastes succulent whether topping a sandwich or with a side of grits. The catfish po boy sounds like a simple concept, but near perfect execution is tough. Delicately grilled with cajun seasoning and on a fresh french roll with dressing, creole mustard, tartar sauce, lettuce and pickles, it was both delicate, filling and savory all at the same time.

Our trip later that day was a little out of the way from Bourbon street, but apparently well known - Jacquesimos Cafe. The table shared braised beef cheeks, some kind of alligator crawfish cheescake, and fried calamari. The beef cheeks were somewhat lacking in flavor, and the fried calamari was, well, fried calamari. Honestly, I don't think fried calamari really gets me all that excited anymore now that every single restaurant in the world seems to have it on the menu. The savory cheescake, however, was delicious and almost eye opening because you just couldn't quite place what the ingredients were, but knew it was amazing with every bite. Ironically, the best part of the appetizers was probably the corn bread muffins topped with fresh parsley and garlic. They were so good we kept asking for more, and a certain someone actually stole a bunch in a napkin for later. My main course was Cajun BBQ Shrimp with mashed sweet potatoes and smothered cabbage. The sides were tasty, and the bbq sauce was a great mix of spicy and sweet, but the shrimp themselves were a little over cooked and despite at first liking it, the heads being on eventually just led to frustration.

After that eating extravaganza, and the drinking that occurred after, we had to get something to help the hangovers the next morning. Luckily, we found a Po Boy place that had something called a Mufelatta. Basically it is the biggest sandwich you will ever see on a great french bread with salami, ham, cheese and a briney, tongue tingling, olive salad all pressed down and heated until every bite explodes in your mouth with flavor. Not only did I finish the entire plate and all the olive salad that had fallen out, but I kept thinking about it the rest of the day wanting another. Luckily, beignets from Cafe Du Monde were able to distract me from eating way too much. Honestly, beignets are not my thing, but I can see why they are famous for their flavor and texture at Cafe Du Monde.

To top off the eating adventure in New Orleans we went to an old place called Mulates. Very much a family style restaurant, we feasted on everything and anything they could fry up for us. We had fried alligator, fried crawfish, fried catfish, fried oysters, fried clams, french fries, and fried crab cakes. Basically the only things we had that weren't fried were frogs legs, grilled alligator and some jambalaya. The grilled alligator actually convinced me that it was better fried, because grilled it comes off a little too chewy and gamey. All in all, I was happy to get more gator, and happy to finally have some crawfish so that I could claim that I ate pretty much everything New Orleans is known for in a single weekend.

After this trip, I don't know if I will need to eat for quite a while. Luckily, I doubt that is really true.


Sarah said...

Yum I love Mother's! I always tried to find time to stop by there on business. Your post definitely inspires me to get down there again soon :)

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